Cameron calls for an end to Northern Ireland 16 (yes, 16) double jobbing MPs…

I know this drives people barmy, since the UUP only became sanctimonious about double jobbing after four of their five MPs got the chop in the ’05 election… But Cameron is the man of the hour, and in this respect he is dead right… This, frankly is embarrassing:

Across the UK there are 17 MPs with dual mandates, combining a seat in Westminster with a seat in a devolved institution. Of these 17 MPs, 16 are from Northern Ireland: all nine DUP MPs, all five Sinn Fein MPs and two of the SDLP’s three MPs.

And the tone of BT’s article gets it about right too:

It can be argued that the devolution of power needed to be nurtured by the province’s political heavyweights. It took people of the stature of Gerry Adams and the Rev Ian Paisley to sell the idea of power-sharing to their diametrically opposed camp followers. And there is also some validity in the argument that no-one could be totally sure that devolution would work, given past failures. In those circumstances the presence of MPs among the members of the Assembly and Executive was understandable. But as Mr Cameron points out, the time for change is now fast approaching. It is time for those double-jobbing MPs of all parties to decide where their political future lies, be it at Stormont or at Westminster.

The Tory leader makes the entirely valid point that no-one, no matter how talented, can be a full-time representative in both places. By continuing to do both jobs, the double-jobbing MPs are effectively downgrading the importance of both the Assembly and Westminster. They are saying that being an MP or an MLA is really only a part-time job and that it is possible to combine both. That, surely, is not the message they wish to convey.

What Sinn Fein will make of this since their MPs don’t sit, I am not sure. But if they are carrying out representative duties, then perhaps they must consider these arguments apply to them too. But there is little excuse for the other parties not rising to the challenge. It might take some of that unbearable weight off Reg Empey’s shoulders, not being an MP and (regional?) leader of his party. And leave him free to deal properly with those toxic edges

  • ??

    shame hes not so forceful with his own mps, some of which have 10 other jobs!

    IF ther tories are sooooooooooo opposed to double jobbing why dont the UUP resign their council seats today

    More Tory Hypocrisy

  • ??

    It is inconceivable that a future Conservative majority would vote for taxpayers’ money to continue funding absentee MPs………..

    a bit of fudge from cameron, the tories wouldnt be voting to continue to fund SF, they would have to vote to oppose it… difference

  • fair_deal

    I don’t think multiples mandates are healthy either for Unionism or parties and should go. However there is only one defence for multiple mandates and it is one that Cameron does not include – the electorate decided to give them to their representatives in a free and fair vote.

    On the topic of double jobbing nice story in the Times today.
    “It also emerged that the Conservative MP Sir Paul Beresford used his second home allowance to pay for a West London property that includes his dental surgery. The Fees Office agreed to reimburse Sir Paul, who works three days a week as a dentist, up to three quarters of the running costs.”

    Would it be ok if the NI MPs became dentists instead?

  • blinding

    Northern Irelands do like to sign up to another expenses opportunity. I suppose an extra salary comes in handy as well.

    I hope Cameron is as clear when it comes to “all” Tory MPS declaring their outside jobs and interests.

  • percy

    This is a sensible idea from Cameron, too much power in both SF and DUP is concentrated in the dynasties: Robinson, Dodds, Paisley’s.
    On the otherside Gerry Adams is Leader, MP , MLA.
    Many folks believe he’s useless as a west belfast MP, his election being simply cosmetic, so this change would allow the younger talented ones like O’Dowd and McKay to really perform at Stoemont, and perhaps the let the old guard like McLaughlin stand as MP, he doesn’t do a lot up on the hill anyway.
    We’ll see, it’ll be interesting to hear from SF.
    I hope they will resist the line:
    “We demand our democratic mandate…. blah blah, and actually face the issue head on , as must DUP”

  • New Blue

    9 DUP elected representatives short changing their electorate at Stormont and Westminster levels.

    Let’s see them step down from one or other now.

  • ??

    New blue, why dont your MLA/COuncillors resign today.

    Why dont TOry MPs with outside jobs resign today?

  • alan56

    At First Minister level…’Welcome David’

    down the pecking order ‘hypocricy, fudge’

  • fair_deal

    There is also a reason why the practice is so endemic in NI comparison with GB. NI is the only part of the UK to use PR so extensively – a side effect of PR is that in comparison with GB name recognition of candidates is more important to electoral success.

  • New Blue


    the DUP must be crapping themselves

    first Jim A is getting 9/4 on Paddy power for more than 60,000 first preference votes (ouch, maybe picking Diane was a bad idea after all?)

    Then Cameron threatens to boot your bestest boys to a salary that woud barely feed 1 Robinson.

    And still your campaign cry is ‘only we can stop Sinn Fein’

    Face it, you’d have problems stopping a runaway pram.

  • ??

    New Blue why cant you answer a simple question, if the tories and UUP are against double jobbing then why arent they resigning their council seats today?

  • fair_deal

    Election googles really do make slugger a tedious read.

    So let me get this straight, UCUNF’s campaign is going so well that a UCUNF supporter is reduced to boasting about the betting patterns on a good performance by another party’s candidate? A supporter for change is gleeful that the antiest change candidate there is predicted to perform well?

    The Tory link was your opportunity to get a new positive narrative but insetad it has simply reinforced the worst traits of the post-deal UUP.

  • Karl Wolff

    I see Paddy Power are down to 2/1 on Jim Allister 60k plus first preferences

  • oracle

    If Jim Alister hits 60,000 1st preference euro votes the DUP will be in serious danger of splitting

  • ?


    I see Paddy Power are down to 2/1 on Jim Allister 60k plus first preferences
    Posted by Karl Wolff on May 21, 2009 @ 12:53 PM

    must be all those “christians” in the TUV gambling on their boss. They really shouldnt believe everything he says.

  • north belfast watcher

    Hey New Blue

    You still haven’t finished answering questions about the UDA

  • blinding

    In fairness all the scandals in Westminister are a godsend to the smaller parties.

    Sure even Norman Tebbit(even before the worst of the expenses) was telling voters to give the larger parties a kicking in the Euro elections.

    I am not sure of his preferences in NI though.

  • Watchman


    Peter Robinson has:-

    attended 387 out of 1037 votes in the current Westminster Parliament which equates to 37.3%. According to this is well below average amongst MP’s.

    spoken in 6 debates in the past year – Again, according to, this is well below average amongst MP’s.

    Has received answers to 0 written questions in the past year – Surprisingly enough, according to, this is well below average amongst MP’s.

    Not to belittle whatever other work he may carry out in London on behalf of his constituents, but, in my opinion, the statistics present clear enough evidence that double-jobbing doesn’t work.

  • ??

    if the tories are so opposed to double jobbing can we expect ot hear the UUP will resign their council seats today?

  • Dec

    I have banned ‘flipping’ and avoiding Capital Gains Tax on second homes; I have stopped all claims on furniture, household goods and food.

    Only rent, mortgage interest or hotel bills, utilities, service charges, rates or council tax can be claimed by Conservative members from now on.

    Does ‘moat cleaning’ fall under service charges?

  • Glencoppagagh

    “…why dont your MLA/COuncillors resign today.”

    Not the same thing. MPs and MLAs are meant to be full-time and salaried whereas councilors are not. It is perfectly feasible for an MLA to carry out the duties of a councillor as well as anyone else with a full-time job. Not so for an MP who take that job seriously as opposed to the financial perks.

  • ??

    when will Cameron stop the double triple, quadruple etc jobbing of tory mps?

    It seems that its wrong to want to serve the public, but its ok to line your pocket with outside interests

  • Driftwood

    David Cameron seems to be upsetting applecarts, almost literally, left, right and centre. Regardless of party politics, Is it not a good thing that he is proposing?
    Politics is a real turn off for many people and recent events have further distanced the electorate. The muddy pond needs a new stream.

  • New Blue

    North Belfast Watcher

    The ‘postergate’ scandal has been identified as the DUP dirty tricks campaign weall knew it was – no more commetn needed really.

    Fair_Deal, Just having a laugh with the self-righteous on here from the DUP, normal service will be restored shortly.


    What about your Councillor, MLA, MP triple jobbers – surely they cold give up 1 job today as a show of faith.

  • “I see Paddy Power are down to 2/1 on Jim Allister 60k plus first preferences”

    I got much better deal earlier on in the week, 6/1 on 50001-60000.

    I’m not really sure what all the rancour is for here, Robinson has stepped meekly in behind the next Prime-Minister of the Uk and agreed with him on the need to get something done.

    Time to move on to the next argument.

  • ??

    so TOry hypocrisy is he allows his MPs to keep their multiple jobs as Ulster Unionists are allowed to keep double jobbing

  • Watchman

    There are unlikely to be any Councillors step down before 2011 if they can help it. They are all waiting to see how much they can get out of the taxpayer as part of their severance package, which is out for consultation from DOE. Possibly £1,000 per year of service as long as they have served more than one term.

    Funny, I thought in a democracy, severance was when the electorate told you it was time to go. After all, it’s not a full-time job!!

  • ??’s gettin desperate

    27 comments, 7 from ??..

    Dupers must be getting desperate at losing all that dosh…..

    ?? try not to hog the thread – we see you, and pass over…


  • fin

    lovely debate in the offing when they get down to the nitty gritty, a really obvious point is that this is about double-jobbing, not double-mandates, Sinn Fein MPs are not paid an MPs salary, hence they are not recognised as doing an MPs job, this has been done to death by the Tories, the government, SDLP and unionists.

    the unionist catfight is raging here regarding the ins and outs of holding any paid employment as an MP, What if Sinn Fein MPs are not allowed to hold any other salaried job MLA or otherwise, and are refused an MPs salary?

  • New Blue

    It’s not just about double jobbing, it’s about the wider disrepect that many of those elected show to the people who have made a conscious decision to place their trust in that person.

    Someone who is elected by the people to represent the wishes of the people in a fair and democratic way should recognise, and place before anything else, what that means.

    Commitment to the peple you are responsible to (and for) means taking a back seat in your personal ambition if it detracts from your chance to do what is best for the electorate.

    Double jobbing, benefit fraud, personal gain before electoral priority, these are things that have been allowed to become the norm in our political system.

    If politicians ar to gain the trust and respect of the electorate then they must prove that they deserve that trust and respect.

    On Micks thread on ‘why won’t our MLA’s interact with us online’ is the first quote that every poliician should learn, and adhere to.

    To be an elected representative is supposed to be to want the best for EVERY citizen. All of us need to remind ourselves, each other and every elected representative of this fact every chance we get.

  • Brian Walker

    It’s an argument that won’t run, but I set down here the case that it would bind in devolution and the centre if a couple of senior politicians from each party from the three devolved assembles continued to hold dual mandates. Ritual attendance all the time in one place is not the point of the job – and shouldn’t be in their case. Together they would express their common interests vis a vis the centre and could form a loose caucus to remind Westminster and Whitehall of the changing character of UK governance. They would also exchange with English MPs over fair financial share-out, different education policies etc. To do him justice, Cameron has seen the need for better links between all four representative bodies and says he will institute regular reporting visits in both directions. But better links are essential, in whatever form. With single mandates, there’s a big risk that the Westminster and Stormont parties will behave with little relevance to each other, as they did in that far distant past.

  • guillaume

    If all powers were devolved, there would be no need to have MPs

  • guillaume

    If all powers were devolved, there would be no need to have MPs.Problem solved

  • New Blue

    That’s a good point Brian, but isn’t it up to the parties to make sure that the links from local council to stormont to westminster to Brussels are solid and that the lines of communication between them is open and strong.

    It is the supposed benefit of having parties who can broaden the coverage of issues over different legislatures as opposed to loads of independents.

    The responsibility has to start a party level to ensure that the Councillor has access to his / her MLA who is in regular contact with their MP who, in turn keeps strong links with their MEP.

  • fin

    New Blue

    “It’s not just about double jobbing, it’s about the wider disrepect that many of those elected show to the people who have made a conscious decision to place their trust in that person.”

    the people who elected the 5 Sinn Fein MPs did so with a mandate of not taking their seats in Westminister, so what should those voters make of Owen Pattersons attitude towards their MPs, why does he not respect those voters and respect the trust they have put in their MPS

    Regarding Benefit Fraud New Blue, good article in the Guardian today concerning how success Tory and Labour Govts have continued Maggies work in kicking the unemployed, the UK’s assistance to people on benefit is borderline criminal, people pay a sizable chunk of their wages in NI contributions but receive damn all back when they need it. £60 a week to live on

  • New Blue


    I agree with you on the mandate given to the Sinn Fein MP’s, people elected them knowing that they would not attend Westminster.

    However, I do not agree that they should receive any public funding if they do not take up their positions.

    On your point about benefits, I agree again, the social benefit system needs a complete reworking, unfortunately this is the worst possible economic time to raise this.

    Following on from your benefit points, I was a bit shocked (and more than a little disgruntled) when Sinn Fein ‘were unable’ to find anyone to sit at the recent NIAPN hustings – representatives of the voluntary sector groups in the audience felt that the party had shown a total disregard to the issues around poverty by doing this.

  • north belfast watcher

    New Blue

    What you mean is no need for further comment now that call me Dave has been and gone.

    Everybody knows the UUs are guilty as sin. I wonder what sort of leaning had to be done to make it all go away?

  • Quagmire

    The UUP are irrelevant. Soon they will have no MP’s or MEP’s. Good riddance. An Phoblact Abu!!

  • Reader

    Dec: Does ‘moat cleaning’ fall under service charges?
    Only if the Moat is rented, which seems unlikely.

  • DC

    Duck Island and the continuing retoxification of the Tories, delightful and same goes when I see Julie Kirkbride on committees, she’s a lovely girl. Julie is to Cameron as Blears is to Brown. A thorny problem.

  • Moira Roundabout

    Are ? and ?? double jobbing? Seem to share an address.

  • iluvni

    When the Commons is packed, the empty green bench where the DUP members ought to be in attendance is very prominent.
    Their ‘you do it today, I’ll go tomorrow’ attitude to attendance is a disgrace.

  • fin

    New Blue, to say that an MP who is elected on a mandate of not sitting in Westminister deserves no funding cannot be democratic, they are elected on that platform and deserve to be treated equally. If that electorate wanted representation in London they would vote accordingly.

    Its a bit rich getting comments from a Tory regarding poverty New Blue, did you tell them to get on their bike and find a job or just outline how fortunate they were to be in the UK

  • New Blue


    I really expected better.

    Just because I am pro-union and pro Conservative I have to be a silver spoon wearing jumped up twat?

    Do you have any idea how many people who work in the voluntary sector, working daily with those who are most excluded, support the concept ‘social conservatism’.

    Growing up in a family who experienced long term unemployment, borderline poverty and all of the lack of opportunity that that brings, gives me the experience to talk about poverty.

    Do I need to wear a badge or do you treat everyone you’ve never met this way?

  • fin

    New Blue, I only wish the Tories were full of inherited wealth, the problem is the Tories and recently Labour is all about ‘I’m all right Jack’ and personal advancement, the on yer bike quote was from Tebbit.

    You support a party that does not believe in society or the protection of the less fortunate, but thats ok because neither does Labour anymore so you are far from alone.

    This is proven by the fact that the unions are now seriously considering putting candidates forward for election, I think the Tories and Labour may well be surprised at the support among the common people for politicans who care about the down trodden

  • New Blue


    It’s not the answer but it’s a step in the right direction.

    Politics (and the labeling of political parties / politicians) has changed dramatically since the days of Thatcher.

    ‘Social Conservatism’ or Conservatism with a social conscience is a principle that I strongly support, we have to develop a fully supportive framework which, from community level up, provides opportunity for every individual.

    ‘Social justice’ can only work if people are empowered, a social state that offers nothing more than handouts is as bad, if not worse, than an ‘on your bike’ state (I got the Tebbit reference, I’m not that young).

    What we need to do, if we are serious about supporting those who are most excluded or marginalised, is provide opportunity for growth and development at community level – developing community social enterprise projects that can become self sustaining, providing opportunities for those who have been neglected for the last thirty years to develop self belief.

    This is a subject that I feel very strongly about. If we are to try and help mend the damage caused to our communities, then we have to engage and empower every citizen, while accepting that each individual should be allowed to benefit from the success such opportunities offer them.

  • Ordinary Voter

    I love everything the DUP does but hate everything done by UCUNF/TUV.

  • fin

    New Blue, sorry, its a smokescreen, the change needed to reinvest the right moral attitudes and proper social conscience back into society (after years of erosion by the Tories and recently by Labour is huge, living in London I am appalled by the hardship of a large part of the community but more so by the selfishness of others on the same rung as me, and more troubled to see this imported into Ireland in recent decades (Christy Moore made a wonderful bit of prose on this – with Thatcher at the centre)

    Maybe if Dave turns around on newsnight and says life isn’t about money life is about doing the right thing, than I might believe you. Until than its all waffle and spin.

    Strangely I find the way politicans speak about scroungers and ‘benefit cheats’ here horridly family to unionists speaking about republican, what they’ll do to them, how they’ll stop them, etc etc

  • Driftwood

    This is proven by the fact that the unions are now seriously considering putting candidates forward for election…

    Like hell they will. Which unions? Not the self serving pathetic public sector gobshites I hope?
    The Teachers Unions are amongst the most pompous and absurd of all. Spouting 1970’s marxist dogma ain’t gonna do much. But maybe it’s time for change, Communism anyone?

  • New Blue


    Christy doing ‘Ordinary Man’ still sends shivers down my spine.

    I fully agree with you about the principle of rebuilding social conscience, problem is we need to create a move away from ‘big brother mentality’ (or maybe ‘the Apprentice’ mentality as it’s the in thing at the moment).

    There are no role models, everyone is on the take (if you believe the media)and that’s the only road to success.

    Change at grass roots levels requires selflessness, and that requires politicians and community leaders to be in it for the Joe on the street.

    Leading by example is the proper way, unfortunately look at the examples our ‘leaders’ show us today.

    Time for Change, as I keep returning to, is only good if the people who are standing are prepared to lead by the right example.

    I may sound very niaeve, but I see people who make a difference to the lives of others every day, people who could earn more or face less hassle by getting other jobs. These are the people we should be electing for leadership.

  • Driftwood

    New Blue

    These are the people we should be electing for leadership

  • New Blue


    Great article

    “He says that One Nation Toryism was built on the belief that the party should be striving to maintain a “national community from which no citizen is excluded” and argue that the Conservative leader appears to have signed up to such an approach.”

    That’s why I signed up

    If it isn’t delivered, I’ll be at the front row demanding my money back.

  • Mr L

    David Cameron had a really positive day today: he took it to the DUP heartland with politics that relate to real life (most refreshing for the people of North Antrim) and forced very well fed Robinson into making a statement on double jobbing: be in no doubt that Cameron knows he has problems with his own party but is determined to clean the show up, unlike Peter who has had to be dragged kicking and screaming.

    Well done David on a good day for NI

  • Driftwood

    New Blue
    A word of warning. While i’m hopeful David Cameron can lead all of the UK out of the mess created by Labour and its public sector union cronies, no party is ever fully united. (Except Command and control parties like SF and the Chinese Communist Party etc). So there will be much wailing when the public service cuts come, and they will come to NI as well, in Spades.
    No gain without pain.
    I doubt he’ll attract much nationalist support here, given historical antipathy towards his party, but i’m hopeful moderate Unionism rolls along the integrationist path.

  • New Blue


    The mess Brown has left us in will require a fair share of pain and we will just have to ‘suck it up’

    But that pain cannot be at the expense of those who are already living lives of poverty, and personally I’m happy to take an extra hit to prevent that.

    I would be surprised if any nationalist were to support him, he is against the priciple of nationalism (in a pro-union and not kick-the-pope way), I would expect pro-union catholics to consider making a move (providing we in the UUP make the changes required to prove that we are singing from the same hymnsheet).

    Challenges ahead but a real chance to make things so much better.

  • Driftwood

    new Blue
    It’s the UUP bit that worries me slightly. As LTU pointed out, Jim Nicholson is not a great promoter of the new ‘brand’. And there is some ‘baggage’ in terms of complacency and some DUP style suspicion/hostility to ‘mainlanders’.
    This Euro election is a distraction, everyone is gearing up for a General election.
    Does the UUP have the calibre of candidate needed for such election? It perhaps does in some constituancies, but I can’t see the rising ‘stars’.

  • New Blue


    As Cameron pointed out (again) today, we will be contesting every seat for the Westminster elections, maybe a chance for some ‘rising stars’ to cut their campaigning teeth.

    the openings that the planned changes (RPA and no more double jobbing) will make to the 2011 Council / Assembly elections another opportunity to show the ‘new face’.

  • Frustrated Democrat

    Did anyone see the rag, tag and bobtail DUP picket at Cameron Direct. They picket the next Prime Minister and then their boss is publically kissing his ass. I even heard a rumour that the the local councillors had to be forbidden from going to see a master at work.

    The DUP have lost the plot are losing votes and meanwhile we have a true politician in town with a well oiled machine that represents real politics.

    When will the other leaders get in front of an open audience of 200, if they can find one, and answer questions about anything?

    It makes the local DUP politicians look like very junior trainees.

    CHANGE is happening before our eyes!

  • SM

    So good to have a breath of real politics in NI for a change! I wonder is it the first time the good folk of Ballymena had a powerful politician stand up and take their questions about the issues which matter to them, rather than the usual tribalist NI nonsense we’re used to?

    I was also amused at the response his article in the BT elicited from Mr Robinson – such a change of tune from his minions who lurk in the Slugger comments.

  • Lugs Brannigan

    Cameron said today that SF should take their seats in the British Houses of Parliament. I don’t vote SF and I don’t often stick up for them but I would certainly would like to see Cameron respond to the following scenario:

    It’s 2029. For some years now we have a united Ireland by dint of the democratic decision of the people of Ireland, north and south. To take your seat in Dail Eireann you are obliged to make an oath of allegiance to the Pope (I know it’s silly; maybe Libertas or some other loony right party pushed it through. . . then again a lot of people don’t think the present situation in the UK is a bit silly in the 21st century!).

    A microphone is pushed under a future Tory leader’s mouth in Ballymena or Larne: “Excuse me sir , do you think the local UUP or DUP TD for this area should take up his/her seat in the Dail or abstain? No dithering. . .yes or no within 5 seconds please.” A lot more dithering than today’s Tory leader I guess.

  • frustrated democrat


    It is disingenuous to suggest that SF would take their setas if the oath was removed when they have said they wouldn’t.

    I suspect that if that was the only barrier it could be resolved.

  • nineteensixtyseven

    I suppose Alan Duncan will be quitting his £24,000 a year boardroom job too then.


    I knocked the doors in Belfast East long long before they heard of Peter

    Paddy Power has called in right the vote for JA
    is rising fast and very fast and will break the
    75k barrier

    For you information at the last EC election at a DUP meeting at which Dr No was
    present I called the DUP vote and I C 300 short of the final count I can smell these things after
    40 years at the trade

  • SM

    I can smell these things after 40 years at the trade

    Posted by THE BIGMAN on May 22, 2009 @ 11:50 AM

    Careful you don’t end up like Lorraine on the Apprentice – she says things like that on “instinct” too 😉


    I know nothing about Lorraine/Apprentice

  • Terrand

    Interesting times ahead

  • Terrand


  • frustrated democrat

    Strange how the DUP abandoned this blog when comment about their picket was raised. Arranged by Paisley Junior apparently pity he didn’t ask Robinson first.